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Lady Tiger Tennis Finishes First Season at Sectionals

By Sara Morris

The Lady Tiger tennis team finished their first season with one doubles team advancing to Sectionals.

Junior Karson Phipps and freshman Alice Go finished at Sectionals only two points away from making it State. The regular season varsity record was 6-8.

“I think I had a very good season this year. I feel like as a team we all worked really hard and got a lot accomplished for only being our first year,” Phipps said.

Emily Nagle, junior counselor and now tennis coach, said she was very pleased with how the season went.

“Coaching the first ever tennis team for the school was amazing. It started off with a lot of questions because we didn't have courts yet, I wasn't sure how many girls would come out, and it was so new to everyone, so there was a lot to explain,” Nagle said.

The girls first had to practice at the Republic High School until the courts at Willard were built. They were finished just in time for the first home match Sept. 28, making it the first tennis match in Willard history.

“I am very grateful that all of the girls and their parents were so flexible and were able to get them to and from practices all over.  Once we had a true home, things really got a lot more fun. The girls have been truly incredible. Most of them had very little or no experience with tennis, but each and every one of them was the perfect addition to the team,” Nagle said.

Juniors Sarah Kieswetter and Neeley Bridges both started playing tennis for the first time this year.

“Considering this was my first year playing tennis, I think I accomplished a lot and did well,” Kieswetter said.

Keiswetter and Bridges received second place in doubles at the Bolivar tournament.

Although there are still aspects Nagle would like to improve, she said the team had a lot of strengths.

“As far as tennis goes, our main strength is that we have a lot of athletic girls with experience in other sports,” Nagle said. “There are girls on the team who have played soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball, and track & field. Tennis may have been new to virtually all but one of them...but their experience in other sports helped build a foundation quickly and a lot of things (footwork, serves, net play, etc.) translated very easily for them.”

Nagle said another major strength is that they have been drilled that they have to be flexible with tennis.  

“It's very different from other sports where there's a game that has a start time, and then it's over.  Girls had to be ready to play without knowing when they would be up, had different partners for doubles, how much they played depended on how many girls the other team had, and it was all brand new to everyone, so they were all learning as they went.”  

Nagle said one of her goals for next year is recruiting some underclassmen. More than half of their team this year was juniors and seniors leaving only four underclassmen.